Sea Shepherd Fleet in Self-Quarantine
Monday, 30 Mar, 2020
"It is on the advice of our Medical Advisory Board, that Sea Shepherd Global has decided for our ships, all of which are presently in port—including Ocean Warrior, Bob Barker and Sam Simon—to self-quarantine for at least the next 14 days, for the safety of our crews and in an act of solidarity with healthcare professionals to ‘flatten the curve’, taking measures to reduce the strain on medical services." Commentary by Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd Global's Director of Campaigns.
Through almost half a century of campaigns at sea, our captains and crews are used to directly confronting uncertainty, whether it’s the unpredictability of heavy weather and dangerous ice conditions, or the volatility of poachers.
They now, for the first time, confront an invisible adversary—one that we are all facing together—the threat of COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus.
On every campaign supported by you, from the frigid Antarctic to the steamy Gulf of Guinea, we’ve been joined by a Ship's Medical Officer, entrusted to ensure the health of our volunteers. Those Ship’s Medical Officers are now serving on the front lines of fighting COVID-19; we must support them now as they supported us in some of the world’s most remote waters.
It is on the advice of our Medical Advisory Board, that Sea Shepherd Global has decided for our ships, all of which are presently in port—including Ocean Warrior, Bob Barker and Sam Simon—to self-quarantine for at least the next 14 days, for the safety of our crews and in an act of solidarity with healthcare professionals to ‘flatten the curve’, taking measures to reduce the strain on medical services.
As most of our supporters know, Sea Shepherd Global has partnered with countries around the African continent to combat illegal fishing, partnerships that have resulted in the arrest of 52 vessels for fisheries crime, saving countless marine wildlife. The health authorities in almost all our partner countries have registered cases of COVID-19 and as a result those governments are wisely implementing travel restrictions. It is also in solidarity with them, and our friends and colleagues there, that we are self-quarantining.
Nature abhors a vacuum and whenever there is chaos, poachers move in to fill the void. When the Ebola virus disease hit Liberia, that's when the illegal trawlers moved in by the dozens.
Therefore, we have the obligation—to one another, to the creatures of the sea and to our shared values—to emerge out of this pandemic stronger than when we entered it. Self-quarantine is the best tactic to ensure that we come out of this crisis swinging.
Our captains and crews will be spending this time continuing to prepare our ships to take to sea as soon as it is safe to do so. After back to back at-sea campaigning, our ships require a lot of maintenance, so our crews are busy at work preparing the ships for their next mission.
Until then, this temporary pause in our at sea patrols is an opportunity to reflect on our many successes in just the past year. The Great Australian Bight is free of offshore oil drilling after the last of three oil companies vying for a permit pulled out. The waters of the Antarctic are finally a sanctuary for marine wildlife in both name and practice as this was the first Austral summer during which the Antarctic was free of both illegal whaling and illegal fishing. Four trawlers arrested in Benin in early December, remain detained in the port of Cotonou. What we were able to achieve off the coast of Antarctica, we will achieve with the support of our government partners in West and East Africa—an end to poaching.
Like when the pursuit of the Interpol-wanted fishing vessel Thunder began in 2014, we don’t know when this latest trial will end—but end it will. When it does, our chase of poachers will continue with us wiser, healthier and stronger than ever before.